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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Logic and John 6:44 | Main | Logic in the Pulpit by Pastor John Samson »

    Visitor Questions on the Fall & Evil

    A visitor recently wrote to ask the following:

    I have to say that I think you made a really good argument against the Amyraldistic point of view. But I have a question about the fall. If Adam and Eve were sinless and had an unstained "free-will" then why would they fall? If they had a "free-will" [i.e. free from bondage to sin] and then fell, it would only go against the Calvinistic teachings of "Perserverance of the Saints."

    Not sure what "perseverance of the saints" has to do with this? But consider that Adam, when created, was not originally sealed in righteousness. He was given a trial period which would reveal how he would use his will and he failed as the federal head of us all. Theologians call this biblical concept of Adam's trial period the "covenant of works", which lingers with us to this day. Like Jesus said to the rich young ruler, "obey the commandments and live"...i.e. if anyone could obey the commandments perfectly they would not need a savior, correct?

    God created Adam and gave him a time period to fulfil His Law. He did not create him already sealed in righteounsss. Jesus likewise, though in very nature God, as a human being he had to "fulfill all righteousness" and "fulfill the law" from our side in order to save us. His sinless "passive" death alone does not save us (though that is part of it) but we are redeemed also because he positively fulfilled God's covenant obligations toward us. Likewise we believe Adam had to fulfil a positive righteousness if he were to have gained life.

    Next the visitor asked the following:

    Why does evil exist? It can't exist unless you place its beginnings in the hands of a "free-will."The only way that you can use Platonic logic and make it work is if you make God the creator of sin. In fact, you would have to do that, or else the logic would be considered "invalid." The only way it could be valid (under supralapsarianism) is if we would call God the sinner. We had to affirm the antecedent (God) in order to be able to affirm the consequent (evil). Though when we did that it only said that because of God's existence evil exists. That would solely make Him evil's creator.

    I see a couple of problems. We must first remember to find all our highest presuppositions for logic in the Word of God, not unaided human reasoning only.

    You seem to be asking, "did God ordain the fall?" Well, of course He did. Otherwise we would be forced to reach the absurd conclusion that something could take God by surprise. If "chance" exists then there is something out there outside God's ability, sovereignty and authority. If this were the case then we cannot be certain of God's promises for if he let evil into the world unwittingly (by mistake) and without knowing it would happen, how can we be certain chance won't win in the end as well.

    Did Adam have a free will? Yes it was free from the bondage and corruption of nature, but it was not free to thwart the divine decree that man would fall .... a choice which brought bondage to the human family. Against his better judgment and good inclinations, he chose to rebel against God. But God ordained the Fall just as everything else, but not through coercion. Both superlapsarians and infralapsarians must both admit this. Even if God allowed the fall "passively", that is still part of His decree and providence and so this was His original intent and it could not have been otherwise. Neither position can escape this. Even Arminianism cannot escape this because God had perfect foreknowledge even prior to creation so He could just have easily have chosen not to allow the Fall by never creating such persons. So, even in the Arminian scheme, the Fall still was within his providence and nothing could have changed that. You seem to be worried that God ordaining evil would make him culpable but consider Acts 2-4 where God ordains EVIL events to come to pass but He remains blameless while only those He ordains to commit the acts are culpable:

    "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." Acts 2:24

    "for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." Acts 4:27-28

    Also consider 2 Samuel 16:11 when someone is cursing David. David responds by saying: "Let him alone, for God hath bidden him."

    And again, Jesus, in John 19:11 says to he who tries him: "thou couldst have no power against Me, except it were given thee from above."

    Jesus is here teaching that God gives him the power to commit this horrible act, and the former passages that He predestined these acts to come to pass. These passages teach that God ordained that evil men would crucify His Son. This was the most unjust, evil event in history, and yet God used it to bring about glory to Himself. i.e. He uses sin, sinlessly.

    SInce the Bible teaches both that God ordains all events and that He remains blameless we must hold this as our presupposition. This is truth even if you can't get your mind around it. To think otherwise is to give authority to something other than Scripture, be it unaided reason or your feelings. If you try to assert that God does not ordain any evil, how do you explain the texts which plainly state that He does. Also if you try to claim that for God to ordain evil, He must be evil Himself, the Bible once again contradicts this assertion.

    Posted by John on January 28, 2006 08:40 PM

    Comments

    Hello John,

    Many times I hear people object to God’s ordaining sin because it either makes God the author of sin, or that it is sinful for God to do such a thing. When we speak of sin it is necessarily relative to some standard. For example, murder is a sin because it breaks one of the Ten Commandments. Sin is always in the context of an agent and some moral code relative to that agent. So, given the following situations, which are sins?

    Situation 1: The Jewish leaders murdered Jesus.
    Situation 2: God ordained that the Jewish leaders murder Jesus.

    Situation 1 is clearly a sin. As we stated above, the moral code relative to the Jewish leaders was the Ten Commandments, and they broke this moral code; therefore, they are guilty of sin. In Situation 2, the act is the act of ordaining, and more specifically the act of ordaining that the Jewish leaders murder Jesus. If this is to be considered a sin, then there must be some moral code relative to God that forbids this action. We know of no such code, and as such we cannot say this act was sin. As you mentioned in your post, the Bible says otherwise. Here is the point: the act of God ordaining the Jewish leaders to murder is not sin; yet, the act committed by the Jewish leaders of murder is sin. This truth is easily seen when one realizes that sin is always relative to some moral code that sits over the agent.

    Now, someone may possibly object to this by saying that God’s law reflects His own moral code; therefore, God Himself cannot violate the laws He has laid down for man. However, this objection is to confuse the creator/creature distinction. It is simply not that case that what is sin for you and me is sin for God. For example, it is sin for me to seek for my glory first and foremost. It would be sin for God not to do such a thing based on who He is. The bottom line is this: If a charge of sin is to be brought against God, then there must be some norm relative to God that God has violated. There is no such norm concerning the act of God ordaining sin.

    Do you have any thoughts?

    Sincerely,

    Brian

    I have been visiting weekly with a biblical counselor and we are finally dealing with the incest and physical abuse of my childhood. My assignment for this past week was to research "honor thy father and thy mother". Any thoughts on how that relates to parents who perform or allow (my mother knew about both) these things to happen?
    How do I forgive?

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